Thursday, November 9, 2023

11.09.23 Here today and gone tomorrow....

     So you know that the front page of newspapers always had a lead image that would catch a potential readers eye which would lead to more sales. I try and pick the best image in any post and make it the lead image. In these last two days there are some good ones. But I couldn't let the above image go without it being the lead. My wife said I look like I'm about to have a bathroom emergency. What she, and others not in the current world of striped bass conservation knows, is that the rush is on once you land a fish to get it back in the water ASAP, if you have to even take it out of the water at all. It has been hammered into our brains. There is also a fear that the Striped Bass Police, who troll beaches and boats, looking for violators of the current said rules and accepted best practices, might see you and make you sopcial media fmous for all the wrong reasons. The above look is the result of such things. Pure panic to get it back ion the water and wet. 

    So as I had mentioned yesterday I gave the kids some time back to get to studying. It was early enough where I could hit the beach and get home to the wife without it really going down as a fishing trip. I got on the Parkway and headed south to Route 36 and then into Gateway National Park. I had a spot in mind and after getting all readied up I hit the sand. While walking I could see it had been a road more traveled 

probably due to some kind of hot bite that occurred in the last day or so. I didn't see a blip of nothing in or nothing out going on. The water, while clean and green, just looked dead. It does that sometimes. You see that during those late December cold water outings. It's just like no one is home anymore. 

     So I was ready to pack it in. I wanted to come and see and I did. As I mentioned the Pettersons were playing phone tag with each other throughout the day and Dad let me know Son was out and about. I was pretty much ready to go but I took a ride to meet up with Leif, the son. I jumped out of truck all ready to go and was met by the below gentleman who was "making 

momma happy" by bringing one home for the table. In fact, several anglers were doing the same. So then it was the walk-of-potential-death in sand that is more like being on a treadmill than anything else. 

     I knew the parking lot wasn't full of bird watchers or nude sun bathers on this day so I wasn't surprised, well maybe I was a bit, to see what I saw when I glanced into the water. It was going. It was 

going good. It was almost going too good. When you fish blitzes like that it's hard for the fly rodder, in my opinion. You see, there is just too much bait. Spin anglers do good for a few reasons. They cast way outside the pods on the beach and pick off the peanut patrol. They cast heavy shads which get under the pods and get the trough riders. Or they throw big swimmers or metal lips which part the pod and get the bass' attention. For the fly rodder we are often fishing in the blitz, through the bunker, and not out far 

enough for the ones keeping the bait pinned. So, you say, get away from the crowd and the blitz. Well I did that for a few minutes and you know what, that is not where the fish are. They may come, or they may not. Spin anglers bunch up for a reason. Because at times, that is where the fish are. I was busy with the camera but made some casts as well as some other fly rodders who weren't having much 
success. Above are few of the videos I shot throughout the afternoon. Pretty cool stuff. 

     So looking away from the crowds and the super big blitzes I saw birds working close to and then right on the beach. There were some spin and fly anglers down a bit but I didn't have to go that far to be

in the mix. Leif had already made the move and we had it pretty much to ourselves for a long while. Not that anyone came it was just a few others around who mostly just held their ground. You didn't need to move just watch and wait and your turn would have come. 

      The fish to me were perfect fly rod fish. Not too big, mostly slot fish 28-31 + inches. They were fat and feisty and ate right at the lip, and sometimes on the beach side of it. There were peanuts beaching themselves trying to get away from the marauding bass. 

     After losing count and just having had enough of a great time I continued to shoot and Leif was a great model because he just kept fishing and catching. We walked out together and called it a day. So now 

the question would be, "What about the morning". There was so much bait and so many fish they just had to stick around through the night tide and will absolutely be there in the morning, right? So I kept my plan of fishing for half of the day today. Of course I couldn't sleep so I was at the same spot before 

6am. When I got down there I picked up on the honking S-SSW wind. Usually south is a killer wind. It just moves the bait off and kills a bite. But not today, they'll chew through whatever wind, or so I 

thought. I was so confident I brought along the extra large big tank, the over 40 inch one, which must weigh like 80 pounds, okay not that much, but it sucked carrying it out. It did get some attention. One guy thought it was my way of keeping them alive before carrying one out for the dinner table. 

    There were about 25 guys along the beach and they went to work casting right out of the gate. The birds were off a ways and the boats that came out got bounced around pretty good in the slop. I just set up and watched and waited. It wouldn't be if but when. And I waited and waited. I found a peanut bunker and took the below picture for the files. I drank some coffee. I ate some meat sticks. 

     I could feel the morning slipping away. A fly rodder, named Russ, came and started to fish near me and eventually we would talk for probably close to an hour. During the conversation he told the story of 

a guy who was taking his picture nearly 15 years ago in this same spot and he saw it in Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine. Well, that was him, and that was me. Below is the picture. One of my favorites as my favorite pics are of a lone fly fisherman. Small world. 

     After we said out goodbyes I packed up and headed out. I took the drive home long the beach looking at many spots. The wind was supposed to go from a SSW to W around 2 pm but I wasn't seeing or feeling it. There weren't any birds, no bait or signs of bass. When I saw the boats out of Manasquan near the three mile line I just felt it was done for the day. But you never know. Leif and Leif did the afternoon thing and didn't find anything either. By then I was already two hours into a much needed day-off nap. 

     Things change hour to hour, day to day, tide to tide, wind to wind. By going today and not finding anything it really makes me feel so lucky and appreciative that I was into it good last night. I could have heard that and it might have made me feel the same, but I don't think so. Seeing is believing. If I don't catch a blitz again for the rest of the fall I'd be good wth that, I think.